Now they are after Smokey Bear, too

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — Congress is back in session and with it, the usual silliness. On opening day, Jan. 3, Congress’ preoccupation was with correcting a huge oversight – a little relief for the Hurricane Sandy victims. 

What with the fiscal cliff and all, it was difficult to concentrate on natural disasters when dealing with the unnatural disaster Congress had created for itself. 

The Senate decided to continue its silly filibuster rule. Bring back Jimmy Stewart. And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell listed examples of government overspending. 

One of them was the Albuquerque-based Smokey Bear balloon, which flies throughout the world, including the annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. 

After Mitt Romney unsuccessfully targeted Big Bird for helping run up the national debt, one might have thought the war on cartoon characters was over.

But it is obvious a strategist somewhere has decided a war on cartoon characters is the way to make the point that Washington spends too much. 

The National Forest Service says the cost of the balloon to the government is only about $30,000 a year and that it is a teaching tool that ultimately pays for itself. 

Somehow going after lovable characters doesn’t seem a smart way to influence public opinion.